A Dungeon So Nice... A Single-Take Review of Dungeon Raiders 2nd Edition

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They raided it twice! A couple years ago I happened upon a little booth at Origins: Devir Games. As an international company, Devir is still (in my opinion) a little under-recognized here in the states. I was demoing one of their new 2-player releases, Holmes: Sherlock and Mycroft, and while I was doing that AJ (co-host of Boardgames Daily) and our friend Sepos demoed another title they had at the show: Dungeon Raiders. Matt, who was working the booth and is a super-nice dude, handed me a copy of Holmes for review, and I mentioned that my friends were raving about Dungeon Raiders and I'd be more than happy to check it out too. He was hesitant, because it was an older title and not even really a Devir game but something they were distributing. But they had plenty of copies so he said: "Sure, why not?!" The rest is history. I reviewed the original here on the site, and you can check it out here. 

I really, REALLY like Dungeon Raiders, but there were certainly some things about the game that weren't very...shall we say...elegant. So, is Dungeon Raiders worth another outing? Or should your adventurer just stay back at the tavern? Best press on to find out.


The Components

Here's where the second edition really begins to shine. There are lots of cards in this game

  • Dungeon cards - these are the different rooms you have to go through that have Monsters, Traps, Treasures, and Vaults
  • Power cards - Everyone gets a set of these, numbered 1-5
  • Special Item cards - Swords, Crystal Balls, Keys, and Torches
  • Dungeon Level cards - These are new to this edition, and tell you which cards are dealt face up and which are facedown for each level
  • Boss Monster cards - The baddies you face at the very end
  • Wound tokens - We had little red cubes for this in the first edition
  • Gold tokens!!!!! - If you read my review of the first edition you know that's one thing I really wanted
    In this edition they really spiffed up the artwork and graphic design. The addition of the Level cards, and Gold tokens are such BIG upgrades from the first edition that REALLY make this game shine! You'll see as we go on!

The Setup

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Setup was a bit tedious in the first edition because you had to count a certain amount of Dungeon Room cards and shuffle them upside down, and then create the 5 levels of the game by dealing out 5 cards under the table so no one can see them and cover them with the Dungeon Level card. Blah. It was tedious and often messed up by someone putting the wrong number of cards in a stack, etc. 

Now you shuffle the Dungeon cards, randomly pick five Dungeon Level cards. Put a random boss monster under the fifth level card, give each player a set of Power cards and any items their character starts with (including Gold and Wounds). And you're ready to raid!


 

The Gameplay

 

Left: Old artwork and components (note: Gold Tracker cards)  Right: New artwork and components (note: GOLD TOKENS!)

Left: Old artwork and components (note: Gold Tracker cards)

Right: New artwork and components (note: GOLD TOKENS!)

Game play is VERY similar to the original edition, except with setting up each level. You'll take the top Dungeon Level card, and follow the key for dealing out Dungeon cards either face up or face down. This makes the levels still random, but you're just dealing from a deck of cards instead of that tedious setup of dealing out cards under the table. Such an easy, but amazing fix! 

Then one room at a time you'll have to reluctantly work together with the other players to move your way through each room. The room types are the same: Monsters, Traps, Treasures, and Vaults.

  • Monsters - Require a certain amount of Power (from your Power cards) to defeat them. If you don't defeat the Monster, whoever played the lowest Power card takes the wounds!
  • Traps - These are all different. Most of them offer your opponents a chance to to ambush you, they target the player with the most Gold, or the least Wounds, etc. causing them to lose Gold or gain a number of Wounds depending on the highest card played for that room.
  • Treasure - Quite simple. Play the highest card, get the Gold. Tie and split it.
  • Vaults - Also quite simple. Play a card and take the item that corresponds with the card you played, sometimes Gold, or healing, other times Special Item cards... OH! Let's talk about those!

    Special Item cards are sort of set in two types: ones that help with certain rooms and others that give you special actions. The Sword and the Key act as an automatic 5 for Monster rooms and Treasure rooms, respectively. While the Torch lets you look at all the face down cards in a level, the Crystal is a card you can play in place of a Power card to see what everyone else is going to play, because.... A "turn" looks like this:

As you prepare for a room players all simultaneously and secretly select the card they're going to play and place it face down. Once everyone has selected they flip their cards over and resolve the room. (So you can see where that Crystal ball comes in handy. "Oh. We're not going to beat that Dragon, buuut I can still play a four and make someone else take the wounds!")

Dungeon Level Card shows green and red icons for face up and face down cards per level.

Dungeon Level Card shows green and red icons for face up and face down cards per level.

Another change to the rules is taking Wounds. Yes, you take Wounds, but NO you don't die and get eliminated during the game!! That's right, first edition rules state that as soon as you take your last hit point, you die, and lose! Second edition rules say, not so fast! Once you make it out of the dungeon, having completed the 5 levels, and making it past the boss, whoever has the MOST wounds, collapses and dies and can't win. So taking Wounds is still very bad, because having the most means you lose no matter how much Gold you have. The remaining players who are alive determine the winner by who has the most Gold. 


The Verdict

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Okay. Before I get too much further, let me recap the improvements that were made in this edition:

  • Gold tokens instead of using two cards that slid around and were super easy to bump and lose track of how much Gold you had
  • Dungeon Level cards - These make setup and gameplay exceedingly more streamlined and enjoyable. Seriously. Putting 5 little icons on a handful of cards, completely changes the approach to setting up this game and cuts that setup time in more than half!
  • No Player Elimination! Taking wounds is still very bad. Sandbagging in the monster rooms just so you can score in the treasure rooms will get you nothing, because you'll still lose for having too many Wounds. The game isn't out of balance, and no one gets eliminated. Brilliant!
  • Updated artwork. The original artwork wasn't terrible, but it wasn't memorable either--you could have used it for any fantasy/dungeon crawly game. But Devir really amped up the artwork and graphic design for this edition and it looks great.

I REALLY liked the first edition. It's fun, has tons of meta game opportunity, no down time, and the player interaction/backstabby-ness of it is simply outstanding. But what they've done both in the mechanical sense with the 2nd edition--changing the setup, doing away with player elimination, adding Gold tokens, and upgrading the artwork--have REALLY put this game over the top for me! 

There is not a group of friends, gamers, or family that I wouldn't play this with, and have a good time! 

The Final Verdict

This by far is the diamond in the rough from this year's Origins. No one was really talking about it but it snuck out onto the exhibit hall floor and kicked everyone's butt! Dungeon Raiders was already a really fun game, and the second edition upgrades and tweaks have moved it into GREAT game territory! Don't be surprised when Dungeon Raiders shows up on my Top Ten list for 2018!

You can listen to Jeremiah's review of Dungeon Raiders 2nd Edition on episode 085 of That's How I Roll!

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Thanks so much for reading! Have you played either edition of Dungeon Raiders?? We'd love to hear your thoughts on them! Just comment below or email us by clicking the contact button up top!

We'd like to thank Devir for providing a review copy of Dungeon Raiders to Jeremiah; this has in no way influenced his opinion.